29 December 2019

Books We Got For Christmas 2019

Every year we make a running list of 50+ books to make our friends' and families' Christmas shopping a dream. We love doing this list each year as it's almost a good forecast of what to expect on the blog for 2020!


One of the best books I read last year was The Vegetarian by Han Kang. It was short and sweet but filled with disturbing images and a REALLY good premise. I saw one of my old professors log this on their Goodreads account and the plot seemed similarly interesting. Human Acts is about the aftermath of a violent attack in South Korea and focuses on three narrators. This is pretty similar to the structure of The Vegetarian.

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore was a finalist for the Pulitzer prize in nonfiction. It was also one of the best of 2018 books listed on The New York Times and that's when I wrote it down on my Christmas list. I'm sure everyone is afraid of global warming, but I spend a lot of nights listening to Stefan and Ashley talk about getting a canoe for the near future .. I live in a coastal city and we are already home to the highest tides in the world, I'm ready to learn about how high they'll eventually get lol.

No spoilers for our Best of 2019 list (coming soon) but Tayari Jones is immensely talented... As soon as I finished An American Marriage I knew I wanted to try one of her other books. Leaving Atlanta is about the Atlanta Child Murders in the early 1980s. I was so disturbed by this case which was the main focus point of Mindhunter season 2 and I can't wait to see how Jones tackles the subject matter. Atlanta was the setting for An American Marriage and you can tell it's an important place to Jones as she grew up there.

I added this to my list when I saw it was one of the featured Belletrist books, but more importantly it was blurbed by Jonathan Franzen on the front cover. Franzen is one of my favourite fiction writers and I always try to pick up any books he recommends. Laura & Emma is about a mother raising her daughter, but it focuses on the perspective of both women.

I am pretty sure I put this on my list because it was mentioned a few times in the David Foster Wallace biography Every Love Story is a Ghost Story (read review here). This is the longest book I got for Christmas coming in at 752 pages. Europe Central is set in 20th century Germany and the USSR. I am a little alarmed to see the blurb they used on the front cover reads "His most welcoming book, possibly his best." Not great words of encouragement but I'm ready to give it a try!

This is another Jonathan Franzen recommendation that I've had on my wish list for at least four years. My parents had to order this one off of Amazon because we couldn't find it in stores or on Indigo's website. Wreck and Order is about a bored, stuck, young woman and her attempt to shake her life up. I just realized that both this and Laura & Emma are debut books.

I can't really remember why I added The Group onto my Christmas list but I know there was a specific reason/something I read that got it on there.

Lol I know I am like many years late to this party and it may seem out of character? I've just heard from so many people that the detail in this book is amazing and I am soooo curious. At least it isn't a movie cover edition.

This is one of two books Ben for me for Christmas! I have been wanting to read this for so long and am definitely planning on getting to it in 2020. The adaption of this into an HBO Max series was announced a few months ago and I want to get a head start so I can finish the book long before the miniseries starring Lupita Nyong'o.

This was the other book Ben bought for me Christmas and I have listened to a few podcasters I like mention it. It's another semi sci-fi, and focuses on a swine flu pandemic that kills most of the world's population. This is another book set to be a miniseries at HBO Max. All the episodes are to be directed by Hiro Murai whose work on Atlanta I love! Ben's celebrity crush Mackenzie Davis is set to star. The author, Emily St John Mandel, is also a Canadian author.


This was a last minute addition to my Christmas list because I saw a number of celebrities I love (Sophia Bush) raving about it only a few weeks ago, luckily my husband is a Christmas Eve shopper and this was probably on the table when he walked in... 

This is written by  Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Ronan Farrow as he uncovered the cover-up of some serious sexual harassment in Hollywood. I believe it starts with a lot of Weinstein but I think it mostly focuses on the industry and government's systemic cover-up of sexual abuse. I'm really looking forward to reading this as it's described as "both a spy thriller and a meticulous work of investigative journalism" which is honestly a power combo for me. 

I'm pretty sure I've read some of Handler's fluff books in the past, I'm thinking of one in particular with a title like My Horizontal Life, but they never really stuck with me. I had heard her on a few podcasts I listen to doing promo for this newest book of hers and thought it sounded interesting. I really liked her Netflix series, Chelsea Does, and wanted to give this a try. I have pretty low expectations for it but sometimes that's the best...

I've been wanting to read this book ever since Cheryl Strayed sung it's praises on Twitter years ago (you may remember I included it on our list of 10 Books About Motherhood).  It's about a twenty year old who gets pregnant accidentally and goes on to discuss her identity shift into motherhood. I trust Strayed's recommendations always and love to read about people's parenting journeys as it's a subject that both terrifies and excites me.

My husband surprised me with this book knowing how much I love the movie and it's seriously one of the most beautiful books I own. It's got the infamous cover art (but not the movie cover) and I keep telling him how I want it behind glass. I don't know why I've never thought to read the book but I'm really excited to now that I own it. It also has all sorts of bonus content in the end like a brainstorm list of alternate titles and notes from Benchley to Carl Gottlieb on the screenplay.

I've been sort of behind on keeping my Hilderbrand library up to date so it was nice of my mom to gift me two of her more recent books this year. I love reading her fiction and find it relaxing and easy but also focused on real issues and not too fluffy that I feel sick about it. I wanted to read this this winter as I love reading her books seasonally but I recently learned it's part of a series and I may want to just read all of them at once like I did with her "Winter Series"...

I actually studied this book for a lit class in University but was heartbroken to go looking for it when Mary Oliver died this year and learn that it was missing. I'm so glad to have replaced my copy for Christmas this year as even though I'm not a huge poetry fan, I really like Oliver's style. Her poems aren't pretentious or purposely hard to understand. For the most part I find them pretty literal and quotes from them are literally scattered across Pinterest and Instagram with all the wrong titles and authors. 

I included this on last year's Christmas gift guide and then added it to my own list because I really love these little analyses of pop culture items we all love so much. I obviously watched Friends growing up like everyone else, I re-watched it when it all went on Netflix a few years back, and now I'm happy to report my nail salon plays it on all their televisions literally year-round so I get to catch an episode or two once a month while I get my mani. I don't know anything about Kelsey Miller but I'm excited to read her write about Friends and it's only 245 pages, a perfect weekend read.

This is another recent Hilderbrand I haven't read and am excited about. See notes on Winter in Paradise, lol.

I read Alice & Oliver by Bock this year and spoiler- included it on my top 3 reads of the year I loved it so much. I added his first book, Beautiful Children, to my running wish list immediately after I finished it. It's always fun to find a new fiction author you really like so I hope this first book is as good as his second.

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